If you’ve ever come up against a coffee snob, it might be comforting to know that avid coffee drinkers aren’t always coffee experts. When it comes to the matter of storing coffee and keeping it fresh, a recent survey conducted by Roasting Plant Coffee revealed some gaps in knowledge among American millennial coffee drinkers.
As someone still learning about the nuances of coffee makers and how to brew the best cup at home, I find it easier most days to leave the coffee expertise up to a local barista. I have even more reason to let someone else do the brewing when it’s a national holiday. However, as the days grow colder, it doesn’t hurt to know how to take care of your coffee.
Based on the recent survey of 1,000 coffee drinkers, 70% of millennials thought they knew the most important factor in keeping coffee beans fresh, but actually got it wrong. It’s not the length of time the beans sit around after harvesting, but rather how soon you drink the coffee after the beans are roasted.
This is part of the reason experts have long agreed that buying whole beans is better than buying coffee grounds. The survey found that 75% of at-home coffee drinkers buy grounds; despite the added convenience, it results in an inferior cup. Per the press release and study from the Specialty Coffee Association and Zurich University of Applied Sciences, “grinding rapidly accelerates coffee’s degradation due to CO2 loss (‘off-gassing’).” This “off-gassing” causes the flavor and aroma of coffee to degrade within days, so by the time you get around to brewing your cup it’s already lost a lot of its freshness.
In addition to sticking with whole beans, it also matters how you store your coffee at home. The survey found that 40% of at-home coffee drinkers store their coffee in the freezer, but coffee is absorbent and you run the risk of the grounds soaking up moisture and aromas from whatever else you’ve got stowed away in there. Instead, it’s actually best to just leave your beans in the bag they came in. That pouch is specifically designed to keep them fresh, so assuming you seal the bag securely between uses, you can’t get much better than that.
Don’t hang onto your coffee for too long, either. Around 60% of survey respondents said they store their coffee for three weeks or more, but studies show that the taste and aroma of coffee degrades as much as 70% within 10 days of roasting. That’s why it’s actually best to only buy about a week’s worth of beans instead of stocking up like you’re preparing for the apocalypse. Sorry to the Costco-sized bag of beans sitting in your pantry.